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Jodie Comer ‘overwhelmed’ after first Tony Award win for Prima Facie

The Killing Eve star paid tribute to her character and writer Suzie Miller as she collected the prize for best leading actress in a play.

Jodie Comer said she felt “overwhelmed” after winning her first Tony award for her performance in Prima Facie.

The Killing Eve star paid tribute to her character and writer Suzie Miller as she collected the prize for best leading actress in a play.

The award is Comer’s first Tony nomination and win, and comes following her Broadway debut in Miller’s one-woman production, which follows a British defence lawyer who ends up in the witness box.

2023 Tony Awards – Show
Jodie Comer accepts the award for best performance by an actress in a leading role in a play (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

The 76th annual event, which celebrates the best in Broadway theatre, saw success for several British names, including Sir Tom Stoppard, whose play Leopoldstadt scooped one of the night’s top prizes – best play.

The 2023 Tonys took place on Sunday in New York and was hosted by Oscar-winning actress Ariana DeBose.

Opening the show, DeBose told audiences to “buckle up” after warning them that the show would be completely unscripted, amid the ongoing Hollywood writers strike.

The strike, involving over 11,000 members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) had previously threatened to derail the show.

The WGA previously agreed to a waiver for the show, so that its members would not picket the event and allow the broadcast on US network CBS to go ahead.

“We don’t have a script you guys. I am live and unscripted. You’re welcome,” DeBose said.

“So to anyone who may have thought that last year was a bit unhinged. To them I say ‘darlings, buckle up’.”

Comer fended off competition from Oscar-winning actress Jessica Chastain in her category, as well as Jessica Hecht and Audra McDonald.

Speaking about her character, she said: “This woman in this play has been my greatest teacher and I have to thank Suzie Miller for that, who wrote this magnificent piece.

2023 Tony Awards – Show
Jodie Comer accepts the award for best performance by an actress in a leading role in a play for “Prima Facie” at the 76th annual Tony Awards on Sunday, June 11, 2023, at the United Palace theatre in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

“Without her writing that (I) would not be here so this feels just as much Suzie’s as it is mine.”

The actress went on to thank members of her production team and apologised to her friends and family for being “absent” in the past year.

“To every person who feels represented by Tessa, this has been my greatest honour,” she said, quickly adding “and it continues to be –  there’s three weeks left!”

Comer’s win comes after a recent matinee performance of Prima Facie was halted after approximately 10 minutes, after the actress experienced difficulty breathing due to poor air in New York caused by smoke from Canadian wildfires.

2023 Tony Awards – Show
Host Ariana DeBose, third right, performs at the 76th annual Tony Awards on Sunday, June 11, 2023, at the United Palace theatre in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

The play had received four Tony nominations, including for best scenic design, best lighting design and best sound in a play, but lost out in all three categories to Life Of Pi.

The awards were accepted by British creatives Tim Hatley and Andrzej Goulding, Tim Lutkin and Carolyn Downing respectively.

Goulding and Downing both gave shout outs to Sheffield Theatres in the UK, where their play had its world premiere.

Veteran playwright Sir Tom said he was “teeming with emotion” as he accepted the best play award.

“I feel very proud and grateful. Thank you so much,” he said.

“But listen, I actually won a Tony Award in 1968, so I knew about not having scripts.

“I’m teeming with emotions that a chat-box wouldn’t begin to understand. Naturally, they include gratitude and pride in the Leopoldstadt ensemble.”

Elsewhere, the night’s other top prize of best musical went to Kimberly Akimbo, with Sean Hayes winning best leading actor in a play.

Best performance by an actor in a leading role in a musical was awarded to
J Harrison Ghee, while Victoria Clark claimed the award in the equivalent female category.

Hollywood star Samuel L Jackson lost out in the category for best performance by an actor in a featured role in a play to Brandon Uranowitz.

2023 Tony Awards – Show
Sir Tom Stoppard, center, and members of the company of Leopoldstadt accept the award for best play at the 76th annual Tony Awards (Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Lifetime Achievement In The Theatre awards were also presented to actor Joel Grey and composer John Kander.

Accepting the accolade, Kander said: “This is a very big deal.

“When your own community honours you it’s very humbling and a little bit scary,” he said.

“I am grateful to music which has invaded me early on from the time I was a baby, and stayed my friend, through my entire life, and has promised to stick with me to the end.”

Grey, who won a Tony and an Oscar for his performance in Cabaret, was presented with his award by his daughter, actress Jennifer Grey, who described him as her “hero”.

Tina Turner, Harry Belafonte, Barry Humphries and Dame Angela Lansbury all featured in the Tonys’ 2023 in memoriam section.

The section was accompanied by a performance by Joaquina Kalukango, last year’s leading actress in a musical winner, who sang Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again from Phantom Of The Opera.

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